Today You Will Write Something Awesome

“Where do you get your ideas?” It’s a cliché question with no one answer. Tracing the source of inspiration for your latest writing project can span back years and across daydreams. The launching point of your next piece could be a news article, an overheard conversation or a half-digested dream.

At a recent book launch, at the Grove Hall Branch of the Boston Public Library in Dorchester, the 20+ authors of I Rate Today A -1,000 shared their origin stories. The book, an homage to Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid and collection of fictional diary entries, was written by students of 826 Boston’s Grove Hall and Egleston Square afterschool tutoring programs.

Although each student, aged 6-18, began with the same general prompt – write a diary entry and be creative as possible – the results vary wildly, taking readers across space and time to worlds filled with superheroes, monsters and aliens. The students share their own tips at the back of the book for creating your own diary entry story but here’s some advice on how to write your next something awesome.

Step 1: Go anywhere Whether it’s the story Spectacular Girl, who fights crime and pays her twin sister to do her homework, or the clear-cut rules of footfield, a football-baseball hybrid played by astronauts & aliens (6 legs not required), the pages of I Rate Today A -1,000 are bursting with fearless imagination. Go wherever your wildest imagination takes you, and once you are there take lots of notes so you can describe it for the rest of us.

Step 2: Trust your journal and your reader. Any story that begins “Dear Diary” is an intimate one. It presupposes a trust that ever writer should aspire to with a reader. Kurt Vonnegurt famously advised that authors “Write to please just one person.” Consider how the whispered, confidential one-to-one channel of a diary might impact your own writing style and the stories you are able to share.

Step 3: Revise your draft. Ask any student who has been published by 826 Boston and they will tell you: “Writers must work very hard to produce one perfect, final draft.” Students that participate in the nonprofit’s writing programs get feedback and edits from several rounds of student and volunteer editorial boards. At the beginning of your project, the waiting red pen should give you all the more reason to be wild and have fun in early drafts. When it’s ready to share with the world, seek out some trusted editors that will ask you the right questions about your story.

Boston Public Library bought a copy of I Rate Today A -1,000 for each of its branches you can find it there or get your own copy and support 826 Boston.

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